A Flavorful look back at Disneyland through the Decades

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The newest Disney+ series, WandaVision, aired this weekend. This new series features Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) and Vision and is inspired by classic sitcoms spanning the 1950s to early 2000s. Watching the first couple of episodes has us wanting to look back through the years. Specifically at Disneyland! Let’s take a look at some of the sights, sounds, and food of Disneyland over the decades.

John Hench & Walt Disney with a model of the Plaza Inn

1950s – When Disneyland park opened in 1955, the food offerings ranged from hot dogs to sit down meals at Swift’s Red Wagon Inn (now Plaza Inn). The Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant was the food focal point of Fantasyland. Tomorrowland’s quick-service eateries were the Yacht Club and Space Bar. Main Street U.S.A.’s Carnation Café offered hot dogs, sandwiches and chili along with an array of ice cream treats representing each land. Casa de Fritos in Frontierland featured the signature Ta Cup, a fried tortilla bowl filled with hamburger meat and cheese. Menus at The Golden Horseshoe advertised “Tongue Teasing Foods and Drinks,” along with the famous stage show.

The Golden Horseshoe

1960s – When New Orleans Square was dedicated in 1966 the feature restaurant, the Blue Bayou, was ready to open. The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, however, was not. Walt delayed the opening of his anticipated themed restaurant saying, “It’s a bad show to look out at the bayou without pirate boats floating by.” Above the Blue Bayou Restaurant was the private and exclusive Club 33 where Walt intended to host dignitaries and sponsors, including those that were being courted for what was then called simply Disney World. The cuisine throughout New Orleans Square was authentic – Monte Cristos, beignets and Mint Juleps – and remains today. Adventureland featured the Tahitian Terrace along the banks of the Jungle River. Don DeFore’s Silver Banjo Barbecue, the only restaurant at Disneyland park to have a name on it other than Walt’s or one of his Disney characters, offered spareribs, chicken, and fish and chips. Fantasia Ice Cream – a blend of banana, pistachio and cherry – was introduced to Disneyland park in this decade!

Blue Bayou Restaurant Concept Art

1970s – DOLE became the sponsor for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. In the beginning, only fresh pineapple spears and pineapple juice were sold; DOLE Whips didn’t arrive until the following decade. The Tiki Room was originally planned to be a restaurant but the idea was abandoned when it was determined that the guests would be so “enchanted” with the birds above, they would linger and never leave. The dinner show became a theater experience with three performances an hour. Outside, the Tikis in the Garden of the Gods were carved by Disney Legend and Imagineer Rolly Crump using an ordinary plastic fork from the Walt Disney Studios commissary.

1980s – You can’t think of churros without thinking of Disneyland and vice versa. Intended for Videopolis in Tomorrowland, churros were first tested near the exit of the Mark Twain Riverboat. Only 100 were made on that one fateful day in 1985. When they were wheeled through Frontierland, guests were following the cart, and needless to say – they sold out! The churro has remained a fan favorite through the years and these days they come in all flavors and colors! Big Thunder Barbecue opened at Big Thunder Ranch in 1986. Set outside, guests were served beef or chicken from the chuck wagon. The fixings were delivered family-style to picnic tables. The beloved BBQ’s operation spanned nearly thirty years – with a few name changes – before finally closing to make room for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Disneyland Dining Fun Facts

1990s – Can you believe it took almost forty years to bring a fully realized, chocolate-covered ice cream bar in the shape of Mickey Mouse to Disneyland park?! There were several iterations over the years, with the vanilla bar first having oblong and oval shapes, and a version with only Mickey’s ears covered in chocolate before technology finally caught up with the Mouse that started it all. The treat we know and love today, Nestlé’s Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar, was introduced by Nestlé in 1992. This decade also brought us skewers across the path from Indiana Jones Adventure at Bengal Barbecue. Beef, chicken, veggie – but thankfully no snake!

Mickey Bar

2000s to Today – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Disneyland park in 2019 and included intergalactic foods from Batuu including Blue and Green Milk, and engine-roasted Ronto Wraps. State of the art culinary theming is also evident at Oga’s cantina and Chef Strono “Cookie” Tuggs Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Back on earth, the Tropical Hideaway in Adventureland became the new home of solo artist Rosita, along with assorted baos, lumpia, and reimagined DOLE Whip.

Disneyland Park is truly as Walt said in 1955 “Where the food is as fabulous as the fun.” We can’t wait to see what other foodie changes come to this park in the coming decades!

If you’d like to visit Disneyland when it reopens, contact me today! I can help you plan and book a magical vacation at no extra cost to you.

Credit: Disney Parks Blog



Sara